Why I Write

Posted by dwallace on September 29, 2010 in Augusten Burroughs, Bill Bryson, David Sedaris, Douglas Thomas Wallace, Funny Authors |

I write because I can. I write because I want to. I write because I have to. I have ideas in my head that if I don’t write they will drive me insane. I write to release my demons.

I’m often asked where these ideas come from. Often I don’t even know, they just come and I have to write them down. I don’t pretend to be profound, or wise, or as articulate as other writers. I’m not Prost or Virginia Wolfe, not that I’ve read any of their work, then I’d have to realize how crappy my writing actually is.

I’m not a high-brow philosophical kind of writer. In fact I’m often juvenile, brash, loud and obnoxious, much like I can be in real life. But I do try to write funny. It’s different to be funny and to write funny. I think you have to be funny in order to write funny. Someone once told me that trying to teach someone to be funny is like trying to teach someone to be tall, you’ve either are or you aren’t. I’ve been told that I’m a funny guy since I was a little kid; probably making up for some insecurity that I’m not aware of, nor do I care to know about.

I write because I want to express myself, my feelings, my views of the world and I want to share those views with as many people as possible. Writing allows me to quench my thirst for knowledge and impose my own sense of twisted humor on the world. Right when I thought I was getting good at it, I read authors like Twain, Bill Bryson, Dave Berry, David Sedaris, Augustine Burroughs, and Kurt Vonnegut, these are people who I consider masters of the craft. They made me realize that I’m not as good as I thought I was.

I write when an idea hits me. This can be walking down the street scrambling for a piece of scrap paper, napkin, or my trusty left arm. Sometimes I write in the car and have to pull over so I don’t kill anyone. But many times I write when it’s late at night—often waking out of a dead sleep with an idea that wants to come out and I know if I don’t get up and write it down the idea will be lost forever. I keep a notebook and pen by the bed for these times. I rarely look at it even when I do write something down. The thing is I have to get the idea out or I’ll lay there in bed and won’t be able to sleep knowing the world may have missed a funny story. As if the world would really miss out or even care.

There are dozens of reasons why I write, but the real reason I write is I do it for myself. Long before I dreamed of getting paid or having any fans—and I use those words loosely, I wrote for myself. I wrote when it was just me, a pad of paper and my pen. Even when my wife, close-friends, and teachers were my only fans, I wrote because I liked the process of putting together a story. I’m not so narcissistic to think the world would stop turning without me, but I like to think I contribute something to the world. Writing helps me do that.

I write because I can. I write because I want to. I write because I have to. It’s just what I do. I’m writer.


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